Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Project: Local economic strategies for shrinking and ageing labour markets


A LEED policy innovation project for 2013-2014

Following-up on 2011-2012 OECD LEED analysis on

Local scenarios of demographic change

The project is conducted in collaboration with the OECD Economics Directorate (ECO), the Directorate for Education (EDU), the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS), CEDEFOP
and the European Investment Bank

RationaleIssues / Methods / Participation / Outputs / Contact


‌The project will identify the policy levers and instruments that can be helpful in the design of strategies to accompany the transition to older local labour markets, and identify how national policy frameworks can best support these transformations.



Demographic changes and the pressing consequences of the ageing society on how we live and work require long-term strategies that take into account the combination of global processes and local configurations. Transitions in the labour market demand new practices and flexible arrangements for businesses and institutions to maintain an older workforce motivated and productive. Training and skills development models, recruitment practices, work culture and incentives for attracting talent need to be revisited. Identification of the determinants of skills obsolesces and how to address them in different industry clusters are all new challenges of the 21st century for policy development. Such new elements play a central role in shaping integrated strategies to maintain industrial competitiveness and innovation, such as skills ecosystems and knowledge intensive activities for skilling-up an ageing workforce, particularly in SMEs.

Results from the 2011-12 local scenarios of demographic change project show that all OECD member countries are ageing (a positive rate change from 1960 to 2010) with Japan as the country that is aging fastest (increase rate of population 65+ is 17.4%) followed by Italy (11.4%), Greece (10.8%), Finland (10%), and Germany (8.9%). From the G20 group, Saudi Arabia is the only country getting younger (-0.7%). From the MENA countries Israel is aging fastest (5.3%) followed by Morocco (2.9%). And most countries in Asia are ageing but at slower pace than OECD countries (including India and China).1

The consequences of ageing for local economic development and policy cannot be overestimated. From a public investment perspective ageing adds stress to capital management in oversized or under-capitalised cities unable to maintain residential and infrastructure assets. There is a need for innovative investment vehicles and interdisciplinary dialogue on risk-reduction related to the demographically-driven changes and the ageing of labour markets.

Migration, ICT innovations for home-based care, urban planning, labour market policy and lifelong learning must all be a part of tailored solutions. Coordinated policy responses at national and local levels need to address management practices in firms by supporting measures to increase the willingness of employers to hire and retain older persons, making employers aware of how to meet the challenges of ageing and the benefits of investing in their staff and stimulating age-friendly HR policies, organising initiatives aimed at eradicating negative perceptions of age, encouraging guidance and counselling services that incorporate a life-cycle perspective that promote employability and that are adapted to the needs and abilities of the ageing workforce.


Issues to be addressed

The project will address the following policy issues:

Management practices for older workers in firms and their impact on productivity (are there differences depending on specific groups in the labour market?) Are the needs of people with disabilities taken into account when addressing older workers needs?)

Skills development and training for older workers
in different industry clusters (are there differences between manufacturing, services, education and healthcare sectors?)

Programmes and initiatives for intergenerational solutions
for older-young employment and their impact on local employment
Local economic strategies and initiatives for ageing skills ecosystems (what investment instruments? What is the impact of local services provision for ageing population?)

Net migration flows of skilled individuals to/from ageing local labour markets
(how local policy strategy could be designed to reinforce / maintain local labour markets resilience).



The project will undertake a survey of employers and employees in selected industry sectors/clusters (manufacturing, services, public administration, education, healthcare) using the LEED OLWOF Index (Older Workers Friendly Places to Work) developed for the local scenarios of demographic change project which already provides data for several countries. Up to 5 case studies of top performing firms/organisations in relation to management practices for older workers will be conducted and compared with the average from the survey.

The project will also analyse the local development and investment strategies in the selected areas where the business survey above will be undertaken and use the LEED ELFRI Index (Elderly Friendly Places to Live) developed for the local scenarios of demographic change project and which investigates the policies, services, settings and structures that support and enable people to age actively.



Interested countries and organisations will provide voluntary contributions towards the cost of the project, the organisation of workshops, case study analysis, policy briefs and the synthesis report.


  • International symposium: Skills and training ecosystems for local revitalisation (Kyoto, Japan) - 12 December 2013



The business survey, the local strategies survey, and organisations case studies will set out the results and policy lessons, to be wrapped up in a synthesis report on optimising ageing labour markets.

Policy briefs with concrete policy analysis and recommendations to the national and local levels accompanied by guidelines for local institutions and firms will be prepared on the following themes:

(1) management practices for productivity gains of older workers; and

(2) local investment and services strategies for ageing skills ecosystems.

Policy briefs will be disseminated through the OECD ilibrary and at selected workshops and seminars as requested.

Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets
Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets: Management practices for productivity gains of older workers
Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets
Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets: Marijampolė's Third Age University in Lithuania

Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets
Local economic strategies for ageing labour markets: The Life Skills project in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, West Wales, UK DOI:10.1787/5jrnwqk7889n-en

Stratégies locales pour les marchés du travail vieillissant
Stratégies locales pour les marchés du travail vieillissant: L'emploi des séniors dans la Zone Territoriale Emploi Formation de Bresse, Dombes, Val de Saône, France




For further information about the project please contact Nathalie Cliquot at the OECD Secretariat.


NOTE: Policy innovation projects address important issues in the implementation of the LEED mandate. In 2013-14, building more and better quality jobs requires us to provide ways to make our training and education systems more flexible and agile locally; make skills systems greener to facilitate the seizing of green growth opportunities; build evidence at the level of local labour markets; tackle disadvantage in a context of resource rarefaction locally; adapt local economic strategies to an ageing labour market; nurture more inclusive entrepreneurship; and accelerate local growth.


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